Tuesday, December 04, 2012

It's Public Hand-Holding As Punishment In Arizona

This is not bad

So, this morning I posted about Susan Johnson, a teacher who was suspended without pay because she played a song about tolerance and acceptance and understanding in class, and now we have another story, of another school, and another official in hot water.

It seems that two boys--their names aren't being released--at Westwood High School in Mesa Arizona, were caught fighting on school grounds recently. The school decided to offer the boys a choice of suspension from school or sitting in the middle of the school courtyard during lunch hour and holding hands. The boys chose the latter.

This is bullying
So, that first lunch two chairs were set outside and the boys sat down and began holding hands. Crowds gathered and other students began laughing and taunting the boys, asking if they were gay and stuff like that. It's basically organized, school-sanctioned bullying, as punishment.

And, as happens, since everybody and their mother has a cell phone, pictures were taken and posted online at Twitter and Facebook, of the boys, heads down, holding hands. Some folks felt the punishment was above and beyond, as it creates an atmosphere ripe for bullying and taunting, while others were offended that the idea of two boys holding hands--implying the boys are gay--is punishment because, you know, gay is bad.

According to Helen Hollands, director of communication and marketing for Mesa Public Schools--and, apparently, as asshat--it was school principal, Tim Richard, who is in his first year at Westwood, who had the idea: “He’s done some great things there. He’s focused highly on maintaining a standard where [ideally] no students are failing a class.”

This is the moron who thinks
being perceived to be  gay
is a punishment
Richard, naturally, isn't talking. But apparently his idea of punishing to boys who can't stop fighting is to make them appear to be gay in the eyes of the school.

However, once district officials heard about Richard's sentencing of the boys to hand-holding, it issued a statement saying it doesn’t condone what the school did: “Mesa Public Schools is dedicated to maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment. The district has guidelines for appropriate student discipline and our site administrators have the authority to impose consequences within our policies and regulations....The district does not condone the choice of in-school discipline given these students, regardless of their acceptance or willingness to participate. District leadership will address this matter with the school principal and review district protocol regarding student discipline with all administrators.”

How is this punishment for fighting? Is the idea that two boys might be gay so utterly horrific that it is a fitting punishment? And doesn't it just create an atmosphere, yet again, where being gay is bad, and something to taunt and tease? Howsabout just telling those two boys that, since they can't settle a difference with words rather than fists that they'll be out of school for a week? Howsabout, if you want to make an example of those boys, make them wear a sign that says they're not smart enough to settle their differences like human beings?

No, make them seem gay.

That's got to be punishment enough.


Anonymous said...

Actually, living in Arizona is punishment enough for most of us. But yes, this is wrong but in wackadoodle places like most of Arizona (aka Florida West) this is normal behavior.

SEAN said...

Just how is it punishment for them if everyone knows the conditions? These boys will be able to laugh it off as how much attention they got and youtube, facebook and twitter hits. This was really a punishment for any LGBTQ kid in that school or AZ.

mrs.missalaineus said...


i am all for finding alternatives for suspension but this punishment had nothing to do with the crime.

i'm willing to bet the administrator that decided on this was not only brand new like the article said, but a product of a 'get your educational administration masters in 1 year' degree mill program. experienced teachers know that public humiliation of any kind is never an appropriate punishment, especially humiliation that denigrates a group.


anne marie in philly said...


oh, it's AZ...no wonder.

what a world. :(

the dogs' mother said...

Really was stunned when I heard about this. Wrong on so many levels. And the additional issues that are going to come along in the wake boggle the mind.

Frank said...

I want to think that the idea was to force some togetherness time for the two boys to teach them to get along. In which case having them volunteer together at a soup kitchen or raising funds for a charity would have been a more appropriate consequence.

Wonder Man said...

Living there is hell, I did it

Biki said...

More of the usual stupidity from school administrators. Why is this job littered with so many sack-a-mole people?

Harper's Keeper said...

Mesa is harsh in it's anti-diversity positions; even by AZ standards. Not surprisingly, the coverage of this by our local paper; the Arizona Republic(an) was not overly critical. They gave prominent coverage to the protest by 200 students at the school holding hands in support of their principal however.

Anonymous said...

And this principal wasn't fired immediately? Why?

Anonymous said...

Here are the e-mails for the Mesa School Governing Bd. Maybe they would appreciate everybody's thoughts on this principal's unforgable actions ...

All Governing Board Members


Mike Hughes


Mike Nichols


Steven Peterson


Michelle Udall


Ben Whiting